A Rift in the Lute.
Nalini Chandra Basu worked hard for the B.L. degree, not to fill his pockets by juggling with other people’s interests, but in order to help the poor, who are so often victims of moneyed oppression. After securing the coveted distinction, he was enrolled as a pleader of the Calcutta High Court and began to practise there, making it a rule to accept no fees from an impoverished client. But two years of constant attendance at Court convinced Nalini that Calcutta had far too many lawyers already. He therefore removed to Ghoria, knowing that he would find plenty of wrongs to redress there. About a month after his arrival, a Zemindar of Kadampur, named Debendra Chandra Mitra, sued one of his ryots for ejectment in the local Munsiff’s Court. Nalini espoused the defendant’s cause and showed so stout a fight that the case was dismissed with costs. Debendra Babu was deeply offended with the young pleader, and determined to do him a bad turn if possible.
About a week later Nalini got a telegram from Benares announcing his mother’s death. He promptly donned the customary Kacha (mourning-cloth) and hurried home, only to find his brother, Jadunath Babu, already in possession of the sad news; and they went to Benares to comfort their stricken father.
After the customary month of mourning Jadu Babu made preparations for celebrating the sradh on a grand scale, by giving presents to distinguished Brahmans, feasting his relatives, and distributing alms to the poor. No money was spared in order to keep his mother’s memory green. The family’s position would have been most enviable, but for a slight unpleasantness which was created by some of the villagers. Debendra Babu, who had been waiting for an opportunity of revenge, went from house to house urging his neighbours not to participate in the sradh, on the score that Nalini had married into a strange clan and was ipso facto an outcast. Jadu Babu was stung to the quick on learning these machinations. He consulted Nalini as to the best method of parrying them, and was consoled by his brother’s assurance that it would be quite easy to win over his opponents except, perhaps, Debendra Babu himself.
When the time for distributing Samajik (gifts) came round, Jadu Babu sent one to every caste-fellow in the village, but all returned them without a word of explanation. Nalini was not so much distressed as he by the rebuff. He advised an attempt to pacify Debendra Babu; which failing, he would put his scheme into execution. The two brothers, therefore, called on their enemy, and falling at his feet, implored him to say how they had offended him.
“You are much better off than I am,” replied Debendra Babu sarcastically; “it would be presumptuous for me to consort with such people. You remember the old fable of the earthen pot and brass vessel?”
“Mahasay,” pleaded Jadu Babu, “we are young enough to be your sons. If we have unwittingly caused you offence, we beg to be forgiven.”